Hearing Loss and Sign Language

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If you are looking to make an extremely worthwhile New Year’s resolution, 

why not take it upon yourself to learn sign language?

Of course, for those with total hearing loss, communicating in sign language can be transformational, even a necessity. But you don’t need to have any hearing impairment to learn it.  Furthermore, it will also demonstrate that you don’t actually need an ability to hear to understand.

Who uses sign language?

In its simplest form, we all use it. Whenever you press your index finger to your lips to tell a child to be quiet, or hail a cab, or point out places of interest – this is all sign language.

For those in the deaf community or with severe hearing loss, however, signing is the primary language. According to the British Deaf Association, as well as being the preferred language for 87,000 deaf people, around 150,000 people in the UK use sign language, not including interpreters and translators.

Parents of deaf children are also wide users of it. It’s reckoned that as many as 90 percent of deaf children are born to hearing parents, so for those parents, learning sign language makes it far easier to communicate effectively – and intimately – with the child.

But even for normal hearing children, to be taught sign language at a very early age can actually encourage better language skills, according to scientists.  For early reading and spelling, sign language is also a great learning tool.    

In the Workplace

Sign language might not be an essential job requirement, but it can certainly enhance various types of career and be extremely rewarding. For instance, anyone working in education could well encounter children who are either deaf or hard of hearing. 

Also for first responders faced with someone who is deaf or hard of hearing, being skilled at sign language in a medical emergency could be crucial. For anyone working in social care or counselling, it can also help to break down communication barriers.

So why should you learn sign language?

The rewards of doing so are limitless. Having the ability to communicate easily with someone you love, or even work with, who has profound hearing loss can be extremely worthwhile and fulfilling. Whether it is for a family member, a baby even, or someone you have befriended, sign language enriches lives. And that can only be good for mind and spirit!

What’s more, it’s also good for your brain. Scientists in Sweden have discovered that learning a new language – including sign language – can actually increase the size of your brain. Scientists also know that people who speak more than one language fluently have better memories and can delay the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Finally, growing numbers are taking it up – so there will be no shortage of people with whom you can share your new found skills. So why not give sign language a go in 2018! 

For further help and advice about hearing loss or how to combat its effects, contact your nearest SEHCC Centre or evaluate your hearing online.